Part of our team was present in Alicante for the start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 for the launch of our new collection "Sailing Edition". Know what it was like to participate in one of the most important events in the world that also carries a strong sustainability message.
Don't know the Volvo Ocean Race? Here's a short introduction:
The Volvo Ocean Race is often described as the longest and toughest professional sporting event in the world, sailing’s most demanding team challenge and one of the sport’s Big Three events, alongside the Olympics and America’s Cup.
Since 1973, the Volvo Ocean Race has provided the ultimate test of a team and human adventure like no other. Over four decades it has kept an almost mythical hold over some of the greatest ever sailors – and the 2017-18 edition will take the teams 45,000 nautical miles around the world, across four oceans, touching six continents and 12 landmark Host Cities. It represents an ideal platform to make an impact about a global issue.
The Volvo Ocean Race decided to take matter in their own hands and use their unique position to spread a positive message. They have partnered up with United Nations Environment to support the Clean Seas initiative, Turn The Tide on Plastic.
They have launched a major Sustainability Programme for the 2017-18 edition and beyond – signing partnerships with 11th Hour Racing, AkzoNobel and United Nations Environment, while outlining a series of commitments that focus on ocean health. Their mission relies on 3 pillars: Minimizing their footprint, maximize their impact and create a lasting legacy for future generations.
Part of our team attended this great event for the start of the race in Alicante, Spain for 8 days where we launched our newest collection "Sailing Edition" - technical sailing sunglasses which were co-developed in with the professional sailors from the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18. For sailors, by sailors.
We also participated in the "Ocean Summit" - instance within the VOR in which scientists, doctors, nautical sportsmen and international private sector met, to expose the extreme situation facing the planet and propose solutions that reverse this self-destructive tendency - where our founder, Thomas Kimber spoke about our vision, mission and everything that can be achieved through collaboration. If you have not seen the video of his presentation yet, you can see it here:
We want to thank everybody who was involved in this process and shared with us during our stay in Alicante. Going over our product, giving feedback, interviews and sharing experiences and conversation with all of us. A especial thank you to the Volvo Ocean Race organization and both teams "Vestas 11th Hour Racing" and "Turn The Tide on Plastic" for the amazing support and energy.
Here you can see some photos of what this experience was along with the impressions of our team members after this event.
Thomas Kimber: "For me Karün's participation in the Volvo Ocean Race is a very important milestone for us as a company but also for our country, because it is a symbol and a sign that from Chile we can not only export raw material, but we can also create value under a very different business logic, we can create products of the best quality in the world, which are present in the most demanding sporting events in the world, competing in teams like Vestas 11th Hour Racing that even come in first place, and at the same time that this product has been made with rural communities in the south of Chile with Chilean talent, with a different business philosophy that cares about society and the environment and not only about economic profitability.This means that if we are able to do this from Puerto Varas, Patagonia to the world, that we can all do whatever we propose and that as a country we have tremendous potential to lead the road to change, a more inclusive, responsible and sustainable economy. I believe that our participation can generate an impact because it can demonstrate through example that we are capable and therefore hopefully inspire many people in Chile and the rest of the world to dare to challenge the status quo and dare through action to generate a change and not from criticizing. The Volvo Ocean Race represents one of the biggest sporting events in the world, its main message this time is "Turn the Tide on Plastics" and ours is "Change the point of view of how we do business" and I think that the fact that such a big event known worldwide as the VOR strategically collaborates with a company like Karün that comes from the south of the world and is a small company is also a symbol and a representation of the new way of doing business and what is happening in the world. It is no longer the big companies separated from the small ones, the businessmen separated from the environmentalists, the politicians separated from the entrepreneurs, but we are all working together and collaborating for the same goal that is to build a society that lives more in harmony with ourselves and the environment. Personally, it is a joy to see that as a team we are able to build something that is of world class and see how from passion and love we are able to reach things that had never been thought for Chile before and I think that it's due to the tremendous collaboration we have with so many people who are working hard to make a change."
Colomba Plass: "It was an incredible experience in every way, launching a new edition of a 100% sustainable technical sunglasses was something new and it had an incredible reception. Listening to the congratulations and all the positive comments makes all the work and previous effort worthwhile. In addition to seeing how powerful and great the event in itself is, it is difficult to measure it when you work from another country and you have never lived it... It meant to understand and live in the flesh that as Karün, being a very small company on the other side of the world, it is possible to be a part of a global change. It meant also understanding that the road is not easy but that it can be done if we have conviction and we work as a team with a common vision. I believe that this collaboration with the Volvo Ocean Race is key and an example for there to continue to be many more collaborations with the goal that finally joins us all: to carry a message of sustainability throughout the world. If other companies are able to make products that collaborate with the solution, welcome! the more people are part of this change, the better. I think that our participation can be a good example for later events. In addition, sunglasses are a very iconic product, so if we use it well they can really generate a positive impact of change whether in a person's purchasing decisions or the way of doing business of a large company."
Colja Van Haaren: "The entire experience exceeded my expectations on all aspects, giving a very big boost of energy and confidence. Being a small brand, it is not easy to take on large challenges like that and our team has surpassed themselves all along the way. Months of work paid off with sailors positive feedback, great atmosphere, a lot of interest all over the event and seeing so many people wearing our frames. These kind of moments are the ones that make it worth working so hard. We were able to meet with the world's best sailors, go for a short sail on a VO65, introduce this new collection that was a massive success. Could not have wished for anything better. The fact the VOR gave us a shot at developing this limited edition for them is huge. And especially to support their sustainability campaign which goes hand in hand with our values. We were delighted to be able to work for the world's best sailors and equip them for a race around the world. And when larger events and corporations move their resources for the planet, it can only be seen as an encouraging message. At Karün we like to offer people a different point of view but all people we met during the race all have the same point of view, determined to make a positive impact. It proves that through a collaborative spirit, we can achieve much more. In this case, Karün is just a part of their campaign together with the UNE, Mirpuri foundation etc. Large or small, every elements helps to potentiate the movement."
Sophie Kimber: "It is difficult to put into words what this experience was for me, but the fact of having participated in this great event and being part of such a large collaboration where people from all over the world are working towards the same goal is very inspiring. It exceeded all my expectations in every way, listening to the feedback from world class sailors about the sunglasses, seeing so many people using our products, the reception after Thomas' talk in the Ocean Summit and the reception we had from all everyone at Volvo OR make all the effort worthwhile and it is an even bigger push to continue working hard for all that is to come. For me it was realizing that even if we are from Chile, a very young and new company can really generate an impact and we can be an example for millions of people if we continue working as we have done so far, it was amazing to be able to share with the best sailors in the world, to have had the opportunity to sail on a catamaran with the "Vestas 11th Hour Racing" team, to really understand what the Volvo Ocean Race is about and to be a part of something much bigger than us. I believe that our products are a symbol of the message we are all spreading, since we are demonstrating that we can do business in a completely different way, with a positive impact in every way. The fact that big companies support us and invite us to be part of events like this, shows that our message is being heard and can inspire millions of people to make a change. We are just a small part of this movement, where large corporations such as the UN Environment, the Volvo Ocean Race, the best sailors in the world and many more are a part of."
Bárbara Toledo: "I was delighted to see that this event was a bridge to unite different visions, realities and companies around sustainability, a sport such as sailing, can be a remarkable case that shows the need to make changes, and that in order for that to happen, we must all collaborate effectively from all the different realities. I lived this experience with humility and a lot of gratitude. It is in this type of instances that you make tangible the idea of the reach of the Karün project, it gives you perspective in many angles. To see the fruits of a complex job as it was to assemble the sailing edition among all, pay in any case the debts that you have with the team goals and your own. It was very crazy to see the reception of everyone in front of something that you dedicated so much time. There you realize, that doing things the right way always makes a difference and people are not indifferent, anyone would think that the VOR would give a project like this to a big eyewear company, and not to one at the end of the world! Good projects speak for themselves and not by scales. In this sense, and despite the difference in sizes, we share the same vision, and that is to make positive changes through example. Being in the event itself, you realized how important and conversational generators the products can become. We saw many people wearing our glasses, a lot! That Karün can generate awareness about sustainability speaks to you of an impact."
* The Karün team with the "Vestas 11th Hour Racing" team in Alicante - of whom we are the official supplier of sunglasses during the race and won the first leg of the race arriving to Lisbon! - Several of the team members, such as Charlie Enright and Mark Towill were part of the development process of our newest sunglasses: The "Sailing Edition"
You can watch a short video summarizing our complete trip here!